Monday, 24 September, 2018

Pompeo forms Iran Action Group to run policy after nuke deal

US dollar banknotes are seen in this US dollar banknotes are seen in this
Steven Clarke | 17 August, 2018, 19:13

A man exchanges Iranian rials against USA dollars at an exchange shop in Tehran on August 8, 2018. "But we must see major changes in the regime's behavior both inside and outside of its borders".

It set 12 areas where "Iran needs to change its behavior", Hook said, including ending all nuclear activities - even those permitted under the earlier agreement - as well as ending ballistic missile development and testing, and support for what Pompeo called "terrorists and militant partners around the world".

Last week Trump warned the world about doing business with Iran, as European allies continued to grumble about the U.S. policy and China, India and Turkey appeared poised to continue importing Iranian oil, providing the Iranian government crucial foreign exchange.

"The Iran Action Group will be responsible for directing, reviewing and coordinating all aspects of the State Department's Iran-related activity, and will report directly to me", Pompeo said.

Hook, who has pushed for tough action against Iran and has worked with national security adviser John Bolton, has been leading the department's talks with allies in Europe and Asia to persuade them to support USA sanctions and cut off Iran's oil supplies as of November. Iranian news agency Mashregh News, which is associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, quoted Iraqi officials and experts as saying that Abadi's initial position in regards to abiding by USA sanctions was made to satisfy the United States in order to guaranty himself a second term.

The US "certainly hopes for full compliance by all nations", Hook said, while noting that Washington's goal is to "reduce every country's import of Iranian oil to zero by November 4".

Ever since U.S. sanctions on Iran were reactivated on August 7, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has been struggling to balance Iraq's relations between the United States and Iran so as not to lose either of them as a supportive ally.

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USA officials have repeatedly said they only pressuring for a change in Iranian behavior and not change in the regime itself.

Back in May, the USA withdrew from a 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran and said it would re-introduce the sanctions that had been lifted under the accord.

The U.S. has also told businesses and governments in Europe that they may also be subject to penalties if they violate, ignore or attempt to subvert the re-imposed U.S. sanctions.

He declined to name any other officials on the new team, but said that it was comprised of a "core staff of several permanent personnel". Trump, he noted, "has also said he is prepared to talk" to Iranian leaders without preconditions, an initiative he said was on a "parallel track" to sanctions pressure.

The secretary of state and former Central Intelligence Agency director also accused several members of Iran's leadership, including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, of participating in widespread corruption. "If the Iranian regime does not alter its destructive behavior, the sanctions will cripple its economy". Companies from France, Britain and Germany, all remaining signatories to the agreement, have withdrawn their investments in Iran, fearing problems with the United States, although Russian Federation and China, who also signed, have said they will remain active in the Iranian economy.

Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, described the announcement as "heavy on accusations and demands, and rather empty on substance", saying it was "not clear what exactly the group would be doing beyond what already has been announced".

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